Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Cheese Monkeys

Winter Sorbeck is the most complicated, emotional, and debatably crazy character in CHip Kidd's book The Cheese Monkeys. His class critiques are generally crippling and sharp, almost to the point that they could cut the recipient of the criticism with a knife. In this excerpt on pages 184-186, Winter surprises everyone including the reader by commending Maybelle on her excellent ad. The assignment was to, "Design a poster, so that upon seeing it, the viewer will feel strongly compelled either to start an action or cease one." Maybelle's sign reads, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T THINK OF ELEPHANTS. Winter's reaction to this sign is to hold up the sign to random passerby on the street and see what they think:
Energised, he threw it open and barked at some random passerby, "Hey!"
We heard a muffled "What?"-an older man's voice. Winter thrust the poster out into space.
"Look at this!"
A beat, then Sorbeck asked, "So? What does it make you think of?"
"Uh, elephants?'
"RIGHT! Hah! Go AWAY!"
He pulled it back in and faced us. Intoxicated.
He reflexively beat his fist against the window, cracking the pane. He did it again. We heard a shower of glass hit the pavement.
"Do you SEE?"
This passage really stood out to me because it characterizes Winter as well as gives insight into his thinking process. The phrase "Do you SEE?" shows that Winter is trying to get his students to take away more from his class besides the proper design of advertisements and instead wants his students to learn how to influence the world. From a formalist lens, the capitalization of certain words stresses what Mr. Sorbeck is trying to say. Words like "intoxicated" and "power" show that he really cares about what he is teaching.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Cheese Monkeys

I love the expressive writing in this book. Chip Kidd's vivacious and witty form of speech helps to describe characters, place the plot line into the correct time period, and adds to the overall themes of the story. When describing Himillsy, the author is always sure to include her unique clothing style because it is a part of her personality. Kidd always conveys a kind of urgency and hurriedness when talking about Hims, as if she may be whisked right of the page. When Happy and Himillsy had their first confrontation, "She stopped, turned, and lowered her sunglasses. Then she let my desperate stare ricochet off her face, and released this from her jelly mouth: "We're all sorry." And what does one say to that?" (Kidd 38). Other hints such as the cars, clothing, and intellectual conversations that take place in this book all hint that it is set in the 1950's. The overall tone of the book evokes a new age of thinking and enlightenment. For example, in one of Winter's last lessons he talks about the book Flatland. He says that, "We sit here in the third dimension-Spaceland-and scoff at Flatland, pitying its immeasurably think folk because we can see in a way they never can. But-and this is a big BUT-doesn't that mean that someone sits in Timeland (AKA the fourth dimension) and feels the same about us? And someone sits in the fifth watching them, and so on, as they say, into infinity? There. Wrap your mind around that" (Kidd 212). The book evokes strong emotion and contemplation and leaves the reader looking at their world in a slightly different way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cheese Monkeys

Seeing how my copy of The Cheese Monkeys has yet to arrive from, I am going to spend this paragraph analyzing the first couple of pages I could scam off the internet and pay tribute to the books unique look. The first paragraph of the book grabbed my attention. It uses words like, "Three thousand Guatemalan dirt pigs," and somehow finds a way to mention cuticles and God all in the same sentence. Looking through a historical lens, the book states that the time period is 1957. Other allusions to the time period of the story are referenced when the author says that he, "Was quite pleased with a drawing in green pencil [he] did on the margin of a page in [his] dreary Civics textbook of Mickey Mouse (from the Steamboat Willy era)..." As I proceed to the fourth page I start to notice the narrator's whitty, sarcastic tone of voice with undertones of longing to be something different but not knowing what to do with himself. He even compares himself to a, "Reliable old sedan," when talking about the relationship he has with his parents. I expect that this book will be much more unique that your classic old school Jane Austen novel or a straitforward romantic comedy. I chose to read this book mostly because of its unique look, but also because the reading style looked similar to that of Jonathan Safran Foer. Both books use visual elements to contribute to the overall asthetics of the book. What also drew me in to this book was the title. I mean, The Cheese Monkeys? What does that even mean? The title coupled with the fact that the side of the book holds a hidden message makes me want to crack open the rest of the book and see what's inside.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Standing up for oneself

New blog post! So I'm continuing to read Wuthering Heights and things have really taken a turn for the worst. Little Cathy's father has just passed away and Heathcliff has forced a marriage between Cathy and Linton. Heathcliff is attempting to force Cathy to come live at the Heights. Catherine obliges, but not without a fight.
'Linton is all i have to love in the world, and though you have done what you could to make him hateful to me, and me to him, you cannot make us hate each other. And I defy you to hurt him when I am by, and I defy you to frighten me!' pg. 273
I love this little outburst from Cathy because it shows that she is finally standing up for herself. Throughout the book she has acted like a child, innocently stashing the love letters from Linton and succumbing to Heathcliff's scheming plot to marry her with Linton. Now that she is being kidnapped and starts to realize the injustice that is going on, she adopts a more mature persona and stands up for herself. This excerpt also shows the power that love has in Wuthering Heights. Even Heathcliff's evil schemes do not have the power to stop the love between the young Cathy and Linton.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wuthering Heights

So I've finally come around to reading a highly anticipated classic on my list by the name of Wuthering Heights. It's not like any book I've ever read before. There is so much heart break and turmoil and lost love. My favorite passage so far in the book is when Catherine is trying to decide if she should marry Edgar Linton or follow her true love Heathcliff.
I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in the world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained and he were annihilated, the universe would turn a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it. I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible daylight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! pg. 80
I had to go back and read this a second time the first time i saw this passage. Her unbreakable bond with Heathcliff can be seen when she refers to their relationship as the rocks beneath. It's like their love is dark and mysterious yet undeniably true. Heathcliff expresses the same feelings for Catherine on page 164 saying, "I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" as Catherine lays on her death bed. I've never heard of a couple needing each other so much, except maybe Edward and Bella from Twilight.. I can't comprehend why Catherine ends up with Linton instead of Heathcliff. If she's so obsessed with Heathcliff, why does she seek comfort and security with Edgar? Catherine manages to be the only person in the world that sees right through Heathcliff's flaws and yet she chooses to not be with him. This passage also foreshadows Catherine's death when she states that she would still continue to exist even if she was to die and Heathcliff remain. Maybe the point of this story is to see how Heathcliff will cope with the loss of Catherine and continue his love for her after she's gone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finished Handle With Care

So I finally finished the insanely long book Handle With Care. It was poignant and left me thinking long after I set the book down. My heart ached for the O'Keefe family as they went through heartbreak after heartbreak, from Mr. and Mrs. O'Keefe's almost divorce to Amelia's eating disorder and self abuse. At the end of the book when the O'Keefes received the money from the settlement I was hoping that everything would turn out okay for this close knit family. But, alas, the ending was not a happy one. The book ends with Willow taking a deathly swim into the pond by their house and never resurfacing. This ending makes me mad just thinking about it. Everything the O'Keefes fought for was for Willow and here she goes getting herself accidentally killed. Everything that her mother and father and sister dreamed of Willow achieving with the settlement money goes down the drain. Here is an excerpt from her death:
There was glass above me, and the runny eye of the sun in the sky, and I beat my fists against it. It was like the ice had sealed itself on top of me again, and I couldn't push through. I was so numb. I had stopped shivering.
As the water filled my nose and mouth, as the sun got tinier and tinier, I closed my eyes and curled my fists around the things I knew for sure:
That a scallop has thirty-five eyes, all blue.
That a tuna will suffocate if it ever stops swimming.
That I was loved.
That this time, it was not me who broke. pg. 473
This is a calming death for Willow because she finally achieves her dream of walking out on to the ice. Also the fact that the ice broke and not Willow is a powerful symbol. It shows her resilience through this entire book and how she stuck through thick and thin. Willow didn't die from her illness, and I believe that this makes her a hero. I love that the last chapter is from the perspective of Willow. All of the book is from the perspective of her different family members so I think this change in view is a good way to finalize the book. This was a beautiful book and even though I detest the ending because of Willow's unnecessary demise I would definitely read this book again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

So I'm always halfway done with the book Handle With Care and the plot is just starting to get interesting. The O'Keefes have just filed their lawsuit and tensions are high. Here is a passage describing Sean's reaction when he found out about Willow's disease and how such a small moment can have such a huge impact on the lives of others.
It never failed to amaze me how the most ordinary day could be catapulted into the extraordinary in the blink of an eye. Take the mother who was handing a toy to her toddler in the backseat one moment, and in a massive motor vehicle accident the next. Or the frat boy who was chugging a beer on his porch as we drove up to arrest him for sexually assaulting another student. The wife who opened the door to fine a police officer bearing the news of her husband's death. In my job, I've often been present at the transition when the would as you new it became the disaster you never expected-but I had not been on the receiving end before. -pg. 144

As a police officer, Sean is expected to encounter hardship and turmoil in the lives of others every day. Even with his tough skin, it's hard to imagine how he was feeling when he found out that Willow was carrying a life threatening disease. This passage is poignant because it walks the reader through the lives of others as their worlds turn upside down. In her books, Jodi Picoult does an excellent job of making the reader feel as if what happens in the book is happening to them. The personal connections that Sean talks about help make the book realistic. While reading this, I'm constantly wondering why such bad things happen to good people like the O'Keefes. They were living a normal life when the discovery of Willow's disease happened. The only thing that people can do is try to discover a cure for osteogenesis imperfecta and help support those who have it. Here's a link if you want to learn more.